ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and Africa in the Global Agricultural System (1961–2050)

The asynchronous but somewhat similar agricultural trajectories of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, especially India, are analysed over nearly a century (1961–2050). Millions of pieces of data available on the past (1961–2007) and on a plausible future (2006–50 projections by the Food and Agriculture Organization) are organised in a simple world food model where production, trade and consumption are aggregated and balanced in calories. Given the current and/or future land–labour relationships that characterise India and Africa, can these regions experience the same structural transformation that the developed countries went through, or work together towards a new sociotechnical regime by developing their own regionally differentiated labour-intensive production investments and technological capacities for economic, social, and ecological sustainability?

Non-farm Economy in Madhubani, Bihar

Based on a field study of two large settlements, the social dynamics of “rural” non-farm economy in the Madhubani district of Bihar are explored. Both these settlements—a census town and a gram panchayat— have a sizeable working population employed in a variety of non-farm occupations. The different types of non-farm activities in these locations are catalogued while examining the dynamics of caste, community and gender within the social organisation of the non-farm economy. The persistence of social hierarchies, differential incomes and discriminatory practices within the emergent non-farm economy are highlighted, even as the “traditional” jajmani-type social structure has nearly completely disintegrated.

Declassification of Census Towns in West Bengal

Eighty-one new census towns in West Bengal are on the verge of declassification in the 2021 Census. This must not be understood to mean that non-farm workers are moving into farm activities. Rather, evidences suggest that growth of farm employment has simply outpaced that of non-farm employment in these new census towns and is possibly the reason behind their imminent declassification. The case of Patuli, which is only considered as an example, shows that non-farm activities, especially trading, are witnessing a fall-off phase and that it failed to expand owing to the loss of its market town/rural service centre character over time, goaded by some local factors. This has led to the subsequent inability to generate sufficient full-time jobs at Patuli. More studies are required to build a comprehensive outlook on the policy measures required to preserve the role of these new census towns as market towns and/or rural service centres in the future.

Caste Discrimination and Agricultural Performance in India

Using data from the Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households, this paper attempts to understand caste-based discrimination and differences in the performance of Indian agriculture by analysing caste-wise differences in various factors of input and output. The results show that disadvantages originating in caste-based discrimination make socially marginalised groups in agriculture end up with low access to resources, low levels of productivity, and low realisation of returns.

Farm Power Policies and Groundwater Markets

With India emerging as the world’s largest groundwater irrigator, marginal farmers and tenants in many parts have come to depend on informal water markets for irrigation. Power subsidies have grown these markets and made them pro-poor, but are also responsible for groundwater depletion, and for financial troubles of electricity distribution companies of India or DISCOMs. Gujarat has successfully reduced subsidies by rationing farm power supply, and West Bengal has done so by charging farmers commercial power tariff on metered consumption. Subsidy reforms have hit poor farmers and tenants hard in both the states. Gujarat has tried to support the poor, with some success, by prioritising them in allocating new tube well connections. We argue that West Bengal too can support its poor by tweaking its farm power pricing formula to turn a sellers’ water market into a buyers’ one.

Networks, Solidarities and Emerging Alternatives

How a farmers’ movement, in its declining phase and amidst agrarian distress, is building new alliances, incorporating new frameworks and attempting to create alternatives is explored. The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, one among the farmers’ movements of the 1980s, became a member of a transnational agrarian movement, La Via Campesina in 1996 to confront issues that were “global” in nature. Based on ethnography during 2011−12 and focusing on the linkages of the KRRS with LVC, the simultaneity of different processes at play within the KRRS are explored to shed light upon how shared understandings are intertwined with the perception and practice of politics, the multiple meanings attached to the terms “local” and “global,” and the discourses and practices of alternative agriculture.

Feminist Science Studies

Feminist science studies (FSS) is a field of study that is interdisciplinary. It draws upon the philosophy, historiography and sociology of science. 1 It also has to necessarily draw upon the practice of science itself. While social scientists might gain insights into the practice and culture of...

Towards a Narrative of Gender in the Biological Sciences

Using the metaphor of the leaky pipeline, this article looks at the relative absence of women in scientific disciplines. It explores, somewhat tentatively, the impact of the structure of institutions and prevalent practices to ask how patriarchal and male-centric notions influence primary assumptions in scientific work and in scientific culture.

Chronicles of a Queer Relationship with Science

This article traverses a journey of a person in science and feminism, highlighting a trajectory in which her relationship with science, its praxis, and its understanding, all transformed as her engagement with feminisms also evolved. The narrative highlights the change from a narrow understanding of science and a career within it, to the emerging multiple possibilities of being a person in science—a change made possible because the feminist lens shifts focus from the question of women in science to a feminist understanding of science. The process, hence, results in a slow inhabiting of the “outsider” in a reimagined landscape of the discipline.

Learning to Belong as an Indian Physicist

In this article, I map out my trajectory as a theoretical physicist, especially highlighting my experiences as a woman in a domain which is especially male-dominated, even more so than in other areas of science research. I reflect on the larger problems women in physics find themselves up against and which range from fewer numbers of women in these areas of science, to integration of women into peer groups, widely prevalent sexist attitudes in their workspaces, lack of support facilities like childcare, and sexual harassment in the workplace. In spite of more women finding jobs in physics in recent years, the attitudinal shifts required to make a genuine difference in the culture of research have not yet fallen into place. Issues of discrimination, whether due to gender, race or caste, prevalent in science have to do with institutional structures and the culture of research. However, the “hard” sciences like physics deal with immutable, objective knowledge, which is itself not marked by these human discriminants.

Mathematics to Mathematics Education

This autobiographical account seeks to achieve two aims. One, it seeks to place in the public sphere a personal experience of abuse, trauma and loss of self-esteem that the author suffered as a doctoral student in mathematics. It details the experiences that allowed her to go beyond the disciplinary confines to engage with feminist and caste politics. Two, it describes and problematises, even if in a limited way, how mathematics and science research institutions are organised and function, the dominant notions and beliefs that operate in these spaces, and their implication for the larger academic atmosphere in the country. It throws light on the pervasive notions of merit that operate in the science institutions, contributing to the exclusion of women and those from marginalised castes.

Woman Mathematician in India

An autobiographical account of being a woman mathematician in India draws on personal experiences to look at the interactions between gender, caste, class, language, and mathematics. The aim is to look beyond the lack of numbers when we consider women in science and to examine the myriad layers that are a part of any such reflection. Maybe, coming from a particular caste background aided in becoming a mathematician, but being from the South in North India created another set of problems. Mathematics, however, was the safe haven within which much of this played out, or was it?

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